rhubarb-raspberry-cheese-cake

Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake Adds a Pop of Spring to Your Easter Table

After months of snow, rain, and grey skies, rhubarb bursts onto the scene with its beautiful colour and tart, refreshing flavour. As soon as we spot those ruby red stalks at the market, we know spring is finally here! A bit sweet, slightly tart and extremely vibrant, rhubarb brightens up all of our favourite desserts and pastries – and this cheesecake is no exception.

Against a canvas of creamy white cheesecake, this jewel-toned rhubarb raspberry coulis pops off the plate. A hint of lemon would pair wonderfully in the cheesecake filling, but we love pure vanilla bean to round out all of the tangy flavours of the rhubarb and raspberry. A classic graham cracker crust and sour cream topping keep the slices clean and elegant for a sweet spring or Easter celebration.

Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Cooling Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

Crust
1¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling
1½ lbs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sour cream, room temperature

Cheesecake Topping
1¼ cups sour cream
¼ cup granulated sugar

Rhubarb Raspberry Coulis
1½ cups sliced rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch

Directions:

Crust:
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
2. Add the crumbs to a mixing bowl along with the sugar. Add the melted butter and stir to combine.
3. Pour the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crust into an even layer on the bottom of the pan using your fingers tips or the bottom of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack as you prepare the filling.

Cheesecake Filling:
1. Increase the oven to 350ºF. Bring 4 to 6 cups of water to a boil (enough to halfway fill a large roasting pan) and set aside. Place a large roasting pan on the very bottom rack of your oven. Place a second rack just above the roasting pan.
2. Meanwhile, place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese on medium-low for 4 to 5 minutes, or until completely smooth. Stop and scrape down the bowl every couple of minutes.
3. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds or extract into the cream cheese and mix for another 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Mix for another 30 to 60 seconds to smooth out any lumps.
4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time. Allow each egg to fully incorporate into the batter before add in the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
5. Add the sour cream. Mix on medium-low until the batter is creamy and uniform, about 2 minutes.
6. Pour the batter into the cooled crust. Smooth out the top as needed. Tap the bottom of the cake pan on top of the counter a few times to expel any trapped air bubbles. Wrap the sides of the pan in a double layer of aluminium foil.
7. Very carefully pour the recently boiled water into the roasting pan. Place the baking pan on the rack above the roasting pan and bake for 1 hour. When done, the sides should be puffed and set while the centre should jiggle when the pan is moved. If it is not ready, check again after an additional 10 minutes of baking. Once done, turn the oven off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool inside the humid oven for about 45 minutes. Once cool, remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack.

Cheesecake Topping:
1. Turn the oven back on to 350ºF. As the oven heats back up, combine the sour cream and sugar for topping the cheesecake. Carefully spread the topping over the top of the cheesecake with a small offset spatula. Return the topped cheesecake back to the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
2. Turn off the oven and again prop open the door with a wooden spoon. Allow the cake to cool in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes before placing it on a wire rack. Let cool for an additional 30 minutes then place in the refrigerator. Drape a piece of parchment paper over the top of the cheesecake to prevent condensation from forming and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight (best).

Rhubarb Raspberry Coulis:
1. Place the rhubarb and raspberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cook until the fruit begins to break down and juices begin to simmer about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice. Stir the lemon juice mixture into the rhubarb and cook for a few minutes. Remove the mixture from the stove and blend until smooth. Press the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the raspberry seeds. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly and Serving:
1. To release the cheesecake from the pan, carefully run a thin knife around the edges of the cake before unlocking the springform pan. Warm a metal spatula under hot water, dry, then run it around the edges of the cheesecake to smooth.
2. Slice cheesecake into wedges, cleaning your knife in between slices, and add to plates. Top with a generous drizzle of coulis and serve.

Explore another spectacular spring dessert couple with our best strawberry rhubarb recipes.

How to Cook a Perfect No-Flip Omelette, Plus More Easy Ways with Eggs

Good mornings start with great breakfasts. Chef Roger Mooking of Food Network Canada Chef School, showcases his skills with the incredible, edible egg, walking you through how to make the perfect omelette using the broiler – without the often-feared flipping. Roger’s failsafe tips make it possible for home cooks of all skill levels to turn everyday eggs into a chef-inspired morning masterpiece.  And along with Roger’s no-flip omelette recipe, we’re sharing even more egg recipes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you can really get cracking in the kitchen.

 

How to Make a No-Flip Broiler Omelette

Make sure you have all of your ingredients set out and ready to go, as this breakfast omelette comes together fast.

Something important to note is the colour of the omelette. Classic French omelettes have no golden brown bits or caramelized edges, as the typical soufléed American-style omelettes often do, remaining a pale yolk-yellow inside and out. Gentle heat and a swift hand make this possible, as do the quality of the eggs.

Free-Run Eggs Are Best

Roger thinks free-run (or free-range) eggs are the most delicious eggs, and a clear choice for the perfect omelette.

“You want to get as close to the natural source of ingredients as possible,” he says.

Eggs are a great example of this, where quality and freshness really count. Head to your farmers’ market to source your eggs, or choose the best you can get at your local grocery store.

You’ll see that beating your eggs is no big deal. Skip the fancy whisk and use a fork, incorporating a little air, beating until the whites and yolks are uniformly combined. For flavour, Parmesan and chives add a hint of something special, without distracting from the mild eggs.

The Perfect Omelette Pan

Roger uses a mix of butter and vegetable oil in his cast-iron skillet – his preferred nonstick pan – so the butter won’t burn. When the pan is heated, a few moments of cooking is done on the stovetop before it’s popped under the broiler. If you’re adding a filling, add that before it heads into the broiler. Sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, leftover cooked vegetables or diced ham are just a few ideas, but Roger keeps his omelette unadulterated, classic French-style.

The tri-fold is the finishing touch (don’t stress!), along with additional Parmesan and chives. Serve it up with toast and breakfast (or brunch or lunch or dinner) is served.

Treat your family, and yourself, to Roger Mooking’s no-flip, no-fuss French Broiler Omelette tomorrow morning.

More Ways with Eggs, All Day

Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, taking you from breakfast to dinner.

The Perfect Make-Ahead Breakfast:
Protein-packed frittatas that can be made the night before, chilled and then sliced to eat on the go.
Try these recipes:
Michael Smith’s Broccoli Frittata
Whole30 Veggie-Packed Breakfast Frittata

Egg-cellent Lunch Ideas:
Versatile hardboiled eggs are just the ticket to power you through an afternoon.
Try these recipes:
Egg Curry
Egg Salad Sandwich with Avocado and Watercress
Lynn Crawford’s Chicken and Egg Salad

Cheep! Cheep! Dinner Recipes:
Eggs baked or poached in cream or a sauce is a delicious and economical way to serve up dinner. Don’t forget the crusty bread!
Try these recipes:
Roger Mooking’s Baked Eggs
Eggs in Purgatory

For more egg inspiration, check out 41 Tasty Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.

How to Buy and Cook Fish with Chef-Approved Tips and Recipes

Food Network Canada Chef School brings together Chefs Mark McEwan, Michael Smith and Roger Mooking to share their best tips and recipes for cooking fish at home. You’ll learn which types of fish work best for grilling, frying, oven-roasting and pan-searing and get great fish recipes for cooking cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna, sea bream and more!  You’ll also get their best tips for buying the freshest fish and learn how to select sustainable fish varieties that are friendlier for the environment. From beginner to advanced, prepare to have fish demystified as you find a fish and dish to suit your cravings.

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Mark McEwan gives his top tips to keep in mind as you head to the fishmonger (a butcher and purveyor of seafood).

Select Sustainable
Before you go shopping, research the fish you’re looking to cook on a site such as Ocean Wise, which can help you make a well-informed decision about your dinner. Ocean Wise makes this simple with their seafood search bar and no-fuss labelling.

The Fresh Fish Checklist
When you’re at the fishmonger, go through this checklist before buying to ensure you’re getting the freshest catch possible.

1. Aroma: First, use your nose to make sure the fish smells like the sea. It should never smell fishy or off.

2. Eyes: On whole fish, clear eyes, not grey or opaque, ones that sparkle when you peer at them, are the next thing you want to look for in your fish.

3. Gills: Make sure the gills are intact on a whole fish, and the interior bloodline should be a mix of bright red and healthy pink.

4. Firmness: Finally, give the fish a poke; it should be bouncy and spring back as opposed to sinking or retaining your fingerprint, which points to age and desiccation.

Nervous About Cooking Fish? Start Here

Not sure where to start? For the chefs, it’s about getting a quality fish you enjoy and preparing it simply. “Very minimal cooking that gives you a beautiful representation of what fish can be,” says Mark McEwan. Pick a fish and cook method you’re comfortable with, and go from there.

1. Pick a Fish to Cook
For beginners looking for a fail-safe fish to cook, a meatier variety with a higher fat content, like salmon, halibut and mackerel, are more forgiving to overcooking.

Best fish for beginners:
Halibut
Salmon
Haddock
Cod
Trout
Mackerel
Swordfish

Best fish for advanced:
Sea Bream
Tuna
Pickerel
Perch
Sardines

Roger Mooking stresses being mindful when shopping, opting for fish on a watch list, like Ocean Wise, aimed to help consumers make educated, sustainable seafood choices. He favours Canadian Halibut (Ocean Wise shares a great chart to help you pick a sustainable species of halibut). “You can grill it, you can roast it, you can pan sear it, you can steam it and they all work really well,” he says.

2. Pick the Right Cooking Method
Not every fish suits every cooking method, so we’ve whittled down a few key techniques and great recipes below. Your fishmonger will likely have cooking tips for your fish selection, too.

You don’t always need a recipe! Roger tells us that a preparation for salmon or halibut can be as simple as placing a pat of butter on the fish fillet, seasoning with salt and pepper, and roasting at 350ºF until the fish is cooked to your liking. The juices from the fish, along with the butter, salt and pepper are your built-in sauce.

The Best Fish for Deep-Frying

For a truly decadent meal, turn to fried fish. In this section, we’ll focus on battered and fried fish, but there are deep-frying preparations (like deep-fried whole fish) that the adventurous can explore.

“Any fish works battered and fried. But we tend to prefer white fish,” says Michael Smith. “Firm white fish tends to work best because it stands up to the (frying) process.” This includes halibut, cod, haddock, pickerel, perch and walleye, so look to what’s fresh, local and available in your area. You can even glean a bit of inspiration from your local fish and chip shop’s menu.

Here are some decadent deep-fried fish recipes to whet your appetite:
Roger Mooking’s Shoreline Fried Halibut
MMM Fish Tacos
Fish in Chips

The Best Fish for Grilling

The chefs are unanimous with their choice for having easy success with grilling fish: salmon.  Why? Michael Smith says that the higher the fat, the better the fish is for grilling, and salmon is naturally fattier. Roger Mooking adds, “Canada has really great salmon. You can get a lot of sustainable salmon as well.”

In addition to recommending salmon, Mark McEwan also recommends thicker steaks like halibut, tuna and swordfish because they work incredibly well on the grill.

Here are some great grilled salmon recipes to try:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Salad
Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

Here are more delicious grilled fish recipes:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Tuna with Carribean Salsa
Grilled Tuna Tataki Bowl
Grilled Halibut with Tomato Vinaigrette
Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad

Watch Mark McEwan grill a whole fish in this Italian inspired recipe:

How to Grill Fish Perfectly

In Chef School, Mark McEwan serves up a gourmet grilled sea bream. This recipe is advanced but doable for the home cook thanks to his pro tips. A quick marinade of fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper are applied after scoring the fish skin to avoid buckling when it hits the grill. For the finishing touches, Mark pairs his grilled sea bream with crunchy focaccia croutons, juicy lemon segments, salty capers and more fresh herbs.

Mark’s 4 Steps to Grilled Fish Perfection
Regardless of which fish you choose, here are his top tips for a grilling flawlessly:

  1. Preheat the grill: Be sure to preheat your grill or grill pan; you want it red-hot so you can hear a loud sizzle when the fish hits the grill. Starting with a cool or just-warm grill will encourage sticking.
  2. Oil the grill: Before you add the fish, your grill needs to be oiled. To oil the hot grill, Mark uses a canola oil-laced cloth to wipe the grates, which has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it won’t burn.
  3. Oil the fish, too: To oil the fish, Mark compares the amount of oil applied to the fish to the amount of suntan lotion you’d put on at the beach: not too much, not too little. If you’re making Mark’s sea bream recipe, the olive oil-based marinade doubles as the lubrication for the fish.
  4. Don’t flip too soon: The fish will release when it’s ready, so don’t move it right away. It’s tempting to fuss with fish on the grill, but Mark tells us the less you do, the better. When the first side of the fish is crispy and golden brown, it should release easily without any skin or flesh sticking.

 

Sea Bream

Get Mark McEwan’s recipe for Grilled Sea Bream, or try your hand at this super-easy, 20-minute grilled salmon recipe from Michael Smith.

 

Here’s How a Nutritionist Meal Preps Every Sunday

Meal prep is essentially making a handful of recipes ahead of time to have on hand for packed or home breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks throughout the week. I think of it as creating a salad bar or hot bar in your very own kitchen, adjusting the recipes with the season and my mood. Today, I’m going to focus on the meal that most meal prep lovers like to make: lunch.

When you’ve planned and prepped ahead, it’s easier to eat healthfully, save money and have more time during the week outside of the kitchen. It’s about investing a relatively small amount of time for a big return. If you’re busy, which I’m guessing you are, meal prep is calling your name.

Every week, I usually take 2 to 3 hours on Sunday morning or afternoon to prepare the recipes I’ll use to build my meals. In my house, there are just two adults, which means I rarely have to replenish the prepped food or make something new. However, if you have a larger family, you may have to do this. Make sure you get groceries on Friday or Saturday so you can get started when you need to on Sunday.

It’s all about simultaneously cooking and chopping a few things at once, using your time effectively. I use my meal prep Sundays to catch up on podcasts or listen to music or an audio book, which makes it more fun.

Make a Winning Meal Prep Team

I prefer not to grocery shop and meal prep on the same day. I will make a list the day before and give it to my partner, who is happy to get groceries for me or I’ll order groceries online. And get someone else on dish duty in exchange for your awesome packed lunches!

Why Meal Prep?

There are several benefits of doing meal prep:
– Moneysaving
– Timesaving
– Healthy
– Adaptable for every taste and family member
– You can try exciting new recipes you’ve bookmarked or pinned
– You can sleep in because lunch is already made
– You have something delicious to look forward at noon

How to Meal Prep Like a Pro

To be successful at meal prep, start with a list of recipes you’d like to make. Most weeks, I keep it classic with a grain bowl or salad bar style meal with roasted and fresh veggies, a cooked whole grain, healthy protein, dip or dressing and a few snacks. Another way to approach meal prep is batch cooking a large pot of soup, stew or chili, cooking up a grain and making sure the fridge is stocked with fruit and nuts.

Don’t feel like you have to make everything from scratch. Nut butter and hummus are fine options to buy ready-made, for example, and canned fish is a portable, healthy protein option that you can stock up on for grab and go moments.

Sheet-pan meals that are all in one, as well as Instant Pot recipes are stellar meal prep options, too.

Make a Themed Container or Jar Meal

For your meal prep lunch, build your flavour choices around a theme. I love the fresh flavours found in poke bowls and they’re easy to DIY with sushi-grade tuna or tofu, citrus, brown rice, ginger, crunchy vegetables and a bright sesame oil dressing. Homemade bento boxes and Southern BBQ lunch boxes are also fun. Embrace versatility!

The Meal Prep Formula

Choose one or two options from each category below to get started. Store each component separately in a BPA-free container in the fridge or build the single serving containers or jars for the week (more on that later).

Grains or Grain Salads (Choose 1 to 2)

– Quinoa
– Basmati rice
– Brown rice
– Spelt pasta or brown rice pasta
– Millet
– Whole wheat couscous
– Wheat berries
– Barley

Protein (Choose 1 to 2)

– Marinated tofu or smoked tofu
– Cooked chicken (grilled, poached, roasted, rotisserie)
– Hardboiled eggs
– Canned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon)
– Pan-fried halloumi
– Pulled pork or pulled chicken (use your Instant Pot or slow cooker here)
– Greek yogurt or goat cheese
– Dhal
– Leftover cooked meat or fish (beef, pork, chicken, salmon)
– Canned beans and legumes

Cooked Vegetables (Choose 1 to 2)

– Roasted squash or sweet potatoes
– Roasted mixed seasonal vegetables
– Roasted or steamed broccoli
– Grilled mixed seasonal vegetables
– Sautéed kale or spinach

Related: Healthy High-Protein Lunch Ideas to Bring to Work

Raw Vegetables and Make-Ahead Salads (Choose 1 to 2)

– Cucumber coins (store in water to retain freshness)
– Cut up carrots (store in water to retain freshness)
– Cut up fennel or celery
– Raw or frozen corn and green peas
– Kale salad
– Cauliflower rice
– Fennel and apple salad
– Thai slaw or yogurt-based cabbage slaw

Dressing and Dip (Choose 1 to 2)

– Balsamic vinaigrette
– Green goddess dressing
– Caesar dressing
Tahini-based dressing
– Spicy peanut sauce
– Hummus
– Guacamole
– White bean dip
– Peanut butter or almond butter

Seasonings (to Taste)

– Lemon or lime wedges
– Flaky salt (pack in a little tin to bring or keep at your desk)
– Hot sauce (available in tiny lunchbox-sized bottles)
– Olive oil

Simple Snacks

– Fruit (apples, banana) with peanut butter or almond butter
– Hard-boiled eggs (plain or spice them up with cayenne)
– Yogurt with prepared or homemade granola
– Prepared or homemade energy bars or bites
Homemade fruit and nut granola bars
– Dark chocolate, clementines and walnuts
– Avocado chocolate pudding
– Crushed avocado on rye crackers
Homemade healthy muffins (keep in the freezer to grab each day)
– Seasonal fruit and nuts
– Homemade trail mix: roasted almonds, chocolate chips and dried cherries

Packing Your Meal Prep To Go

In containers or jars, which I like for building salads, arrange your prepared components grain bowl style, just like you would if you were at home, packing dressing on the side or adding it to the bottom of the container before loading in the ingredients. If you have enough containers, you can do this all at once, but I usually keep the components separated until the night before when I pack up tomorrow’s meal (I find it keeps it fresher). Keeping components separate also means more people will enjoy it, as they can build their own lunch to suit their taste. I usually make 4 to 5 days’ worth of lunch recipes for two people, as one day we may have a larger dinner with leftovers or choose to eat out at lunch.

Meal Prep Any Meal

While that’s my main focus, I do also meal prep my breakfasts. I make overnight oats (muesli) for the week or granola, which I can quickly portion into a small mason jar. I also find that breakfast recipes, like overnight oats and yogurt and granola, double as healthy, packable snacks.

Meal Prep Recap

Here are my final key points to make Sunday meal prep lunches happen:
– Plan the meals you want to meal prep each week
– Make a list from your recipes and grocery shop
– Devote Sunday (or the day of the week that works for your schedule) morning or afternoon to preparing the bulk of your recipes
– Keep a stash of large, small and personal-sized containers, as well as large and small glass jars to store your prepped components and meals in
– Make 4 to 5 days of lunches, upping the quantities based on your family size
– Choose 1 or 2 themed cuisines (Southern, Indian, Japanese, Thai, Greek, etc.) to avoid dietary boredom and jazz up your every day
– Keep snacks on hand and in the freezer for fast bites
– Double up a make-ahead breakfast, like granola and yogurt, for weekday snacks
– Batch-cook soups, stews and roasts to store in the freezer for weekends when you don’t have time to do meal prep
– Divide and conquer; get your partner or family members in on the meal prep game. Even someone getting the groceries will make this way easier to stick to
– Head outside with a pal to enjoy your meal or go into your workplace’s common room and grab a place at the table. A packed lunch doesn’t mean you have to eat alone al desko, unless you prefer it

Instant Pot Turkey Chili is Healthy Comfort Food in a Flash

The Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker,  allows you to create dishes that usually take hours, in just a matter of minutes. This easy turkey chili recipe is a weeknight dinner perfection. It has loads of hidden vegetables, lean protein and best of all, comes together in a snap without forfeiting that must-have slow-cooked taste we all know and love in a big bowl of comforting chili. It’s perfect for busy weeknights and weekends, and best of all, leftovers freeze well, too.

instant-pot-turkey-chili-1

Healthy Instant Pot Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
2 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1½ tsp salt
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups kale, destemmed and finely chopped
1 (19 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup Greek yogurt, for serving
¾ cup grated cheddar cheese, for serving
¼ cup sliced green onions, for serving
lime wedges, for serving

chili-turkey-instant-pot

 

Directions:

1. Set Instant Pot, (or your electric pressure cooker) to sauté. Add turkey, cumin, chili powder and salt. Break up turkey and mix with spices to combine. Let turkey and spices brown, about 8 minutes, stirring intermittently.
2. Meanwhile, add onion, celery, carrot and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until vegetables turn into a smooth paste. Add vegetable paste to turkey and spices and stir to combine. Stir in tomato paste, followed by crushed tomatoes and kale.
3. Close lid and set Instant Pot to “Chili;” cook for 30 minutes. Allow pressure to release for 10 to 15 minutes until fully released or quick release using the vent. Stir in beans and allow to heat through.
4. Ladle chili in bowls and garnish with yogurt, cheddar cheese, green onions, and lime wedges for seasoning. Serve.

Slow things down in the kitchen and use your multi-cooker to make a warming Slow Cooker Irish Stew.

5 Tasty Waffle Iron Hacks That Go Beyond Breakfast

There’s no denying that fluffy, fresh waffles are pretty much the most heavenly food ever. But who says your waffle maker is limited to breakfast use? The handy appliance can cook far more than your favourite brunch dish, which means they’re no longer relegated to a pre-noon meal in our books.

With a little kitchen creativity the sky’s the limit — so why limit yourself to sweet breakfast waffles topped with berries and cream when you can use your iron for incredible, savoury lunches and dinners, too? Think waffle-inspired sandwiches, pizzas, creative side dishes and more. When you break it down, there’s so much more to this comfort food than syrup and jam. Not that we’d ever complain about those toppings either, mind you.

Take this recipe for a simple Margarita Pizza, for example. Fresh pizza dough is waffled up to crispy perfection, then topped with tomatoes, two kinds of cheese and shredded basil at the very end for a new twist on a classic that’s calling our name. It’s simple, savoury and something outside of your typical slice of pie. The fact that it’s ready in a matter of minutes is just an added bonus.

 

Now how genius is that?

But we don’t have to stop with pizza — swapping out regular old bread for seasoned waffles makes for the perfect sandwich twist.  The Sweet Potato Chronicles gals whip up some tasty examples in the video below, breathing new life into Southwestern Corn Waffles (made with buttermilk and topped with Monterey Jack cheese);  Caprese Waffles (stuffed with fresh mozzarella); and these Thanksgiving Waffles, which take turkey and sweet potatoes to a whole new level.

 

It’s amazing how just a few adjustments to a waffle batter can result in so much goodness. Looking for more waffling inspiration for your next lunch or dinner? Try these recipes on for size.

Breakfast-for-Dinner Savoury Waffles

Who says you can’t have breakfast for dinner? Good old-fashioned cornmeal batter is waffled up to perfection and then served with your choice of fresh eggs, sausage or bacon in this riff on a classic.

Taco Waffles

These cornbread jalapeno waffles are stuffed with more traditional taco ingredients like shredded chicken and pico de gallo for a fun, Mexican waffled twist.

Waffle Maker Quesadilla

Who needs waffle batter when you have wheat tortillas laying around? Stuff yours with some fresh cheese and let the iron do all of the work while you waffle around.

Discover genius hacks for your slow cooker, freezer and more.

 

 

 

Veganism Made Easy: Lauren Toyota’s Fail-Safe Tips for Eating Plant-Based (And Loving It)

The idea of noshing on a juicy burger or devouring a bacon mac and cheese skillet (okay fine – and a slice of buttercream cake for dessert) is the stuff of comfort food dreams. It’s also the stuff vegan foodie Lauren Toyota, of famed blog and YouTube channel Hot for Food (part of Kin Community), cooks up on a regular basis. “I’m trying to dispel the misconception that, as a vegan, you have to eat raw food, salad or green smoothies all the time,” she says. That’s also the theme behind her just-released cookbook Vegan Comfort Classics, featuring over 100 plant-based recipes that are unapologetically indulgent and drool-worthy. We caught up with the Canadian star to ask about everything from her humble beginnings to her top tips for entry-level vegans.

Photo courtesy of Vanessa Heins

What inspired you to take such an inventive approach to veganism?

When I first became vegan, I thought I had to uphold some idea of health. I thought I couldn’t enjoy the foods I used to eat when I was an omnivore. But I quickly got out of that trap once I realized, if I don’t change what I’m doing, I’m not going to stick to this whole vegan thing. I don’t want to eat cold food all the time.

Comfort food is just a generic umbrella term because it can be anything to anybody. Whatever is comforting to you might not be comforting to me, because it plays off your childhood, your experiences and your senses. I’m always trying to get my recipes to appeal to as many senses as possible.

Was there a learning curve? What did you eat before becoming vegan?

Before becoming vegan, I had just travelled through the U.S. with a family member, driving through states like Florida and Georgia. We were eating a lot of terrible omnivore food, from po’ boys to Cuban sandwiches. I had gone from eating all of this southern comfort food, which plays into what I make now as a vegan, but then not feeling good. And I went on that trip thinking, this is it. I’m just going to go all out and then come back and get healthy. Whatever that meant.

Once I became vegan I eventually started asking myself things like: How can I make salads more satisfying? I think I probably started there, adding creamier dressings and heavier toppings and then thought, well wait, now I want to experiment more: How do I make cheese as a vegan? How do I make bacon as a vegan?

Oyster Mushroom Po’ Boy (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

What are your top tips for beginner vegans?

Stick to What You Know: Which foods do you like? Try to substitute a few non-vegan ingredients for vegan ones, but don’t try to cook something you don’t even know how to make or know if you like – start with your favourite meal or something you eat all the time and recreate it without your default ground beef or Parmesan cheese. Make tiny adjustments without reinventing your entire diet.

Start Cooking: You have to start cooking something, even if it’s a very basic pasta with jarred sauce. Get used to cooking, because I think if you’re going vegan, or mostly vegan, it’s so empowering and something everyone can learn.

Don’t Overhaul Your Fridge and Pantry:  It can be a slow transition, integrating one thing at a time, or using up that jar of regular mayonnaise before swapping it for a vegan version. Take the same approach when replacing cheese, and so on.

Shake up Your Grocery Store Routine: Walk through different aisles and start reading labels. Educate yourself and get out of your habitual patterns – if you’re not reading labels, you likely don’t realize that much of what you’re buying probably is vegan. So figure out what you’re already buying that’s vegan, and what you should add to your cart.

Tofu Benny with Hollandaise (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Pantry staples you can’t live (or cook) without?

Raw Cashews: They’re neutral in flavour and don’t taste nutty because they’re not roasted. Vegans like to soak and blend cashews to make thick creams or milk. There’s substance and viscosity to it, and it provides the same texture as whipped or heavy cream in a sauce. I also make Parmesan by grinding cashews into a coarse meal with nutritional yeast.

Nutritional Yeast: I use this ingredient a lot in the cookbook – it’s one of those things people may not know about, but it’s been around forever. There’s nothing weird or processed about it. It has B12 and protein and fibre. I incorporate it into everything because it adds depth, like a cheesiness or nuttiness.

Thickeners (like Cornstarch or Arrowroot): Thickeners are great for soups and sauces. You should always keep one in your pantry because it will never spoil.

Spices: These are important for beginners too because you’re basically trying to season food with spices to taste like meat or other dishes you’re used to eating. Stock up on smoked paprika, cumin, turmeric and onion and garlic powder. Spices are also inexpensive and pretty much last forever, as long as you’re storing them in a dry place.

There seems to be growing interest in plant-based eating, specifically vegan comfort foods. Why now?

At the beginning [in Toronto and elsewhere] we saw more juice and salad bars. Now, in contrast, we’re seeing a second movement: the indulgent side. I think it’s helping people get on board with veganism so they don’t fall into that trap of thinking they have to eat one way. It’s great because you can access both types of food, no matter your diet. I think everyone who’s on the same mission as me in the community realizes this is just how we get people interested and through the door.

Crispy Crabless Cakes (Featured in Lauren’s Cookbook, Vegan Comfort Classics)

Where do you see veganism heading? Where will it be five to ten years from now?

In five years, I think we’re going to be at a place where it’s much more normalized. Every restaurant will have more than one plant-based option on the menu, or if not, an isolated vegan menu, which you’re seeing places do now. I hope it’s not so much of a thing to harp on, that it’s just regular food that happens to be made with plants. At the end of the day, the movement is not a trend. It’s really a way to get people adjusted to the fact that this is the future of what you’re going to be eating.

Want more of Lauren’s decadent recipes? Try her Cauliflower Buffalo Wings, Perfect Vegan Lasagna and Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites.